Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews

Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews

Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews

Theresienstadt: Hitler's Gift to the Jews


Norbert Troller's unique account of life in Theresienstadt combines his intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the camp with two dozen of his own drawings and watercolors. Troller recounts his two years in Theresienstadt from early 1942 until September 1944, when he was deported to Auschwitz after the Nazis discovered he and other artists were smuggling out drawings that revealed the horrors of Hitler's "model" ghetto. Miraculously preserved by his friends, Troller's drawings and watercolors of life inside Theresienstadt add a compelling dimension to his story. His keen observations of human nature, of the experiences of his fellow prisoners, and of his own existence are embedded within a powerful history of the Theresienstadt atrocities.


It is now more than eleven years since Norbert Troller first walked into my office and told me that he had been a prisoner in Terezín and had secretly drawn life inside the ghetto.

When he told me the almost miraculous way in which his pictures were saved and retrieved after the war, I knew that we wanted to give him an exhibition. Since Norbert was already in his eighties, we did not have the luxury of time. He had been painstakingly writing his memoirs, and these served as the basis for the essays accompanying the drawings.

Throughout the preparation of the exhibition, Norbert worked with us very closely and came innumerable times to the museum from his apartment in the East 70S. He was so happy that his work was at last being shown and his sentiments given public recognition. All his life he had been a modest and unassuming person who never quite believed that his work could be considered art, since he thought of himself as architect rather than artist.

When it came to designing the installation, he made numerous sketches indicating how the chairs were to be arranged in the exhibition hall because he was so concerned that everything should be perfect. What a thrill it was for him to come to the opening and see his friends of the past forty . . .

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